Solutions Blog

The Simplicity of SimpliVity

By Richard Arneson

GDT and HPE SimpliVity combine to create lemonade from a client’s prior, sour deployment

In the world of technology, today’s advancements can quickly become tomorrow’s obsolescence. No organization understands this better than one (1) of the country’s largest energy companies. They needed to refresh their entire IT environment, which they believed they’d already accomplished through their IT organization. What they soon discovered, however, is that a solution, or in this case a re-fresh, doesn’t truly address the issue of obsolescence if the latest and greatest solution isn’t implemented correctly. GDT has seen this before. And, like they have thousands of times over the past twenty-three (23) years, their engineering team transformed the customer’s sour experience into the sweet taste of technological success.

What went wrong?

Unfortunately, the customer hadn’t initially conscripted the help of one (1) of the IT industry’s most knowledgeable and experienced collection of engineering experts. In addition to the solution they had implemented, they had already begun testing less-than-ideal solutions to remediate the issue. There’s a phrase for that: “throwing good money after bad.”

Through interviews with the customer’s key stakeholders and decision-makers, GDT’s engineering team discovered that the client’s current “solution” didn’t provide them the ability to easily and efficiently replicate data between their production environment and a Disaster Recovery (DR) site. And the solution’s resource-intensive deduplication process, which analyzes incoming traffic and stores only what doesn’t already exist, didn’t accommodate their need for an expedient solution. In short, their critical de-dupe process was slow.

An aptly named solution

As one (1) of HPE’s premier partners, GDT is in a unique position that few of its partners have earned and enjoy—the ability and expertise to quickly design, deliver and deploy HPE solutions. GDT engineering knew exactly what the customer needed, and, better still, had the empirical experience to perfectly deploy it–HPE SimpliVity. HPE SimpliVity is a pre-integrated, all-flash, hyperconverged solution that simplifies IT by combining all infrastructure and advanced data services for virtualized workloads, including VM-centric management and mobility, data protection and guaranteed data efficiency.

The Simplicity of SimpliVity

HPE SimpliVity has earned the simple in its name for a number of reasons, but for this customer it meant managing the solution through its existing VMware dashboard and management environment. By installing a simple plug-in on VMware’s management platform, vCenter, this new HPE SimpliVity customer can easily and seamlessly enjoy its new solution. And, because the customer is considering a Microsoft Hyper-V migration in the future, it was relieved to know that HPE SimpliVity can accommodate that virtualization software solution, as well. The customer’s deduplication issue, due in large part to a particularly cumbersome application, was immediately addressed, as HPE SimpliVity can de-dupe and recover a stunning one (1) Terabyte (TB) of data in a matter of seconds. And with SimpliVity’s impressive, industry-leading 10:1 de-dupe ratio, the customer now enjoys ninety percent (90%) savings in its physical storage capacity.

If you have questions about how GDT’s talented engineers and solutions architects can digitally transform your organization, contact them at SolutionsArchitects@gdt.com or at Engineering@gdt.com. They’d love to hear from you.

Whatever happened to Google Fiber?

By Richard Arneson

Think back ten (10) years. If you can’t, I’ll do it for you. LeBron James broadcast live which team he would eventually dismember. South Africa hosted the World Cup and the planet was introduced to the vuvuzela, a noisemaker that all but ruined the TV coverage. And Tiger Woods returned to golf after his soon-to-be ex-wife bounced a 7-iron off his head a few times. And who could forget that Google Fiber launched in Kansas City—the first city of many planned—that would help bridge the digital gap between the haves and have nots.

What made Google Fiber sound so enticing was that it would extend fiber optics to the curbs of citizens who happened to live in one (1) of the six (6) initial cities the company hand-picked to serve. And don’t forget the speeds Google Fiber promised—up to a gigabit per second, which was a hundred times faster than the average speeds of the day. What could go wrong? It was going to be digital nirvana.

The National Broadband Plan

In 2009, Internet Service Providers’ (ISPs) plans to upgrade and expand their infrastructures stalled out. In the previous few years, ISPs had steadily provided consumers with internet innovations, including DSL and cable-based connectivity. And Verizon had rolled out FiOS, the first iteration of fiber-based connectivity to the home. The providers didn’t feel enough of a competitive threat to pump billions into their infrastructures. Most consumers were happy, at least the ones who had access to broadband. But the government wasn’t.

In 2009, the National Broadband Plan (NBP) was enacted to help ensure at least 100 million Americans had access to internet speeds of 100 Mbps by 2020. It shoved ISPs into build mode, and the NBP checked that 2020 goal off its list in 2016.

In response to the NBP, Google conducted research and submitted it to NBP stakeholders that showed the economic and competitive impact that not having a next-gen infrastructure would mean to a variety of areas, most notably smart grids, tele-health and distance-based learning. Apparently, Google ate its own dog food. They approached cities about participating in fiber-based, gigabit testbed networks. The response was staggering—Google had hoped they’d get a couple dozen cities take the bait. Instead, they received interest from over a thousand. They had backed their way into a market.

Big Bang Disruption. It’s a thing

Google Fiber benefited from what’s called the Big Bang Disruption model, in which innovative solutions meet a marketplace that’s ready for them. As a result, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) heard the banging on the door and began pumping money into building out their infrastructures faster than they had planned—a perfect example of technological disruption. And there was IoT looming on the horizon. Yes, faster speeds would be needed. Local governments even took notice and tried to accommodate ISPs by making it easier for them to enter new markets, and incumbent ones to more easily expand without all the red tape.

Google decided which cities to build into based on, basically, how easy they were to work with. They weren’t looking for tax breaks or financial incentives. They just wanted cities who would be more accommodating when it came time to dig up roads and sidewalks to lay fiber. They wanted more streamlined permitting processes and no political conflicts. They knew that more red tape meant more costs. They selected Kansas City, MO., Austin, TX., Salt Lake City, UT., Provo, UT, Atlanta, GA. and Charlotte, N.C. They added another five (5) until Google announced, just five (5) years later in 2016, that they were suspending further deployment.

A failure? For Google, maybe, but not for the rest of us

You can still get Google Fiber in eleven (11) cities, but its deployment fell well short of its initial prediction—fifty (50) cities. While it has all the earmarks of a failure, what it has provided the public at large can be described as an unmitigated success.

Google Fiber prompted ISPs to build next-gen networks much sooner than they had planned. Google would announce expansion plans to include a city, and incumbent ISPs serving that city would soon broadcast plans to pump dollars into the infrastructure and deliver higher speeds and lower prices to its residents.

And Google Fiber exposed the level of government red tape that prevented ISPs from upgrading existing networks or allow competitors to enter the market. Cities began to examine their own processes and procedures, knowing that without improvements ISPs would simply find other communities to serve. Those reforms resulted in better served residents, happier ISPs, more desirable accommodations to attract new businesses, and better PR. Win-win.

And don’t forget what all of this means to 5G, which we’re eagerly awaiting. Rental costs for pole attachments and rights of way, which used to be seen by city governments as nice little revenue streams, have been re-examined. They know if they’re seen as getting in the way of the people and their 5G, they’ll be shredded in the press. And at the polls.

Questions about Digital Transformation? Talk to the experts

If you’d like to learn about how GDT’s design engineers and solutions architects turn traditional, legacy infrastructures into innovative, agile machines that make customers more competitive, help them bring applications to market faster, and deliver a superior customer experience, contact them at SolutionsArchitects@gdt.com or at Engineering@gdt.com. They’d love to hear from you.

You can read more about how to digitally transform your infrastructure here:

Monetize space? Sure, if you’ve got a launch pad and a few thousand satellites in your garage

FTC cracks down on robocalls, but is apparently poor at collection calls

How Machine Learning is making you smarter on game day

Nvidia drops big chunk of change to round out its data center strategy

Intelligence limited only by your architectural imagination

Data growth— how to store all those 1’s and 0’s

Storage—software style

Thank God I’m a country boy…as long as I get broadband

A road less traveled…than you’d think

The four (4) horsemen of HCI

Who doesn’t want to Modernize?

Workshops uncover insights into the state of IT and Digital Transformation

What is Digital Transformation?

The only thing we have to fear is…definitely not automation

Without application performance monitoring, your IoT goals may be MIA

When implementing a new technology, don’t forget this word

Automation and Autonomics—the difference is more than just a few letters

Is Blockchain a lie detector for the digital age?

If you fall victim to it, you won’t end up marking it as “like”

They were discovered on Google Play, but this is no game

Blockchain; it’s more than just Bitcoin

When being disruptive is a good thing

GDT’s CX practice delivers—again—what others can’t

Another company learns what others have for years—the GDT and Cisco partnership doesn’t disappoint

By Richard Arneson

According to a recent survey concerning employee productivity, ninety-seven percent (97%) of respondents believe a lack of collaboration delays projects’ outcomes. It’s an eye-popping statistic. And for a regional cable TV and Internet service provider serving the upper Midwestern United States, it could relate. They thought they’d addressed this very issue when they selected a collaboration and communications provider that promised its solution would simplify communications and enhance productivity. It did neither, but in large part due to a lack of training that resulted in low adoption rates and the vast majority of its two thousand (2,000) employees wondering if the solution did just the opposite—complicate communications and lower productivity.

After conscripting the help of GDT’s Customer Experience (CX) professionals, the customer soon learned that a solution’s success is measured by effectiveness and employee adoption rates. By turning to GDT, the customer soon enjoyed both.

From interviews comes an Action Plan

As they always do, GDT’s tenured team of software lifecycle professionals with key stakeholder interviews, who relayed exactly what was needed to ensure the needs and demands of their teams would be fully addressed.

As a result of their thorough, upfront research, GDT’s CX team knew that Cisco Webex, its on-demand collaboration, online meeting, web conferencing and videoconferencing solution, would deliver the perfect solution. GDT’s CX team knew that its close Cisco partnership, which spans more than two (2) decades, would do exactly what it has done for thousands of customers over the years—perfectly address customers’ unique technology needs.

The GDT CX team crafted a detailed Action Plan that addressed everything needed for the solution to be considered successful—detailed training and communications plans, measurement of key performance indicators (KPIs), tracking of employees’ usage, barriers (and how to overcome them) regarding adoption, and all business processes that may be affected by GDT’s Webex solution.

“The purpose of today’s training is to defeat yesterday’s understanding.”

The effectiveness of any solution relies heavily on knowledge sharing and training, and GDT’s CX professionals put together a plan to not only address both, but one (1) that would include information that can stand in the way of the best of solutions—the fear of change. GDT made available multiple training sessions to accommodate the customer’s workforce, which included an array of work shifts, and also included Lunch and Learns at their corporate headquarters.

“Success is led by the power of communication.”

When it comes to putting action and training plans to the test, nobody knows better than GDT’s CX team that communication is the linchpin of a solution’s success. Without it, adoption rates are low, metrics aren’t met, the fear of change is validated, and desired business outcomes are quickly extinguished.

GDT’s CX team crafted a communication plan that addressed each of the customer’s concerns. They soon learned, as GDT had promised, that they would gain many advantages by migrating to a cloud-based interface. Team spaces in Cisco Webex were created to immediately respond to employee concerns that may affect adoption rates. And training didn’t take a backseat once the solution was deployed. Through virtual desktops, Webex teams were deployed for multiple departments.

Cisco Enterprise Agreement (EA)—a simple solution to a complex, decades-old problem

Prior to the 2017 launch of Cisco Enterprise Agreement, three (3) key elements software customers had always wanted, but never received, including simplicity related to license management, flexibility to meet the changing demands of businesses, and value that comes from financial predictability and the end to retroactive fees. Cisco Enterprise Agreement delivers on all three (3). It helps organizations buy, consume and manage Cisco technology across its entire software portfolio. And it accomplishes something else—freeing up customers’ time, so their personnel can work on more pressing, business-driving initiatives.

“Oh, no, not the CAPTCHA screen”

By Richard Arneson

     ” If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand time. I’M NOT A ROBOT!”

Come on, admit it, when you’re trying to access a website and you get the I am not a robot CAPTCHA screen with the nine (9) stacked images, your heart drops a notch or twenty (20)—especially if you’re on your smart phone, each image is the size of a pencil eraser and you’ve misplaced your reading glasses. Is that a palm tree or a street light? And why did they hide it behind that stupid tree? It’s never a welcome site and Google, which offers its CAPTCHA service for free, has made proving you’re not a robot tougher. Hopefully, this news comes as relief if you’re getting stumped more frequently and are questioning your problem-solving skills.

Google, what gives? Just let me in the website

Remember the good ‘ole days when proving you weren’t a robot meant deciphering a few slightly swirled letters? But, do you also remember how the letters got more and more swirly, until determining the ones listed became a serious challenge?

The puzzle evolved because character recognition programs evolved, as well. They got better, and we’re all to blame. After years of correctly typing in letters, we helped train the recognition programs. By becoming more difficult, the puzzles became more annoying. New and different robot identification was needed, and Google found it in CAPTCHA (Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart), which they bought from Carnegie Mellon in 2009.

We can thank this big brain for making CAPTCHA more difficult

In 2016, a University of Illinois computer science professor named Jason Polakis published a paper in which he detailed how, by using off-the-shelf image recognition programs, he was able to solve CAPTCHA puzzles with seventy percent (70%) accuracy. Apparently, his paper made its way to Google. Soon after the publishing of the Polakis paper, CAPTCHA images became smaller, fuzzier and obscured by shrubs. Thanks, Jason, now I can’t read last night’s box score on my favorite website. His paper inspired other researchers, who began solving the CAPTCHA audio version with Google’s own audio recognition program.  

According to Polakis, “We’re at a point where making it harder for software ends up making it too hard for many people. We need some alternative, but there’s not a concrete plan yet.”

Failed attempts to supplant CAPTCHA

A lot of brainpower has attempted to replace CATCHA, but apparently nobody as “brilliant” as Polakis has tackled the issue. One (1) attempt involved asking users to determine facial expressions, ethnicity or gender. No, that wouldn’t result controversy.

Another big brain proposed trivia based on nursery rhymes—perfect, unless you want users to resent their parents for not reading to them at bedtime. Another CAPTCHA replacement still required picture identification, but in animated form. So, when the user is asked to identify, say, a camel, it will probably be dressed in a tux and smoking a cigarette.

reCAPTCHA v3—a very judgmental next version

Google’s CAPTCHA team has been working on reCAPTCHA v3, which the company introduced in late 2018. It uses adaptive risk analysis, which essentially scores traffic based on how suspicious it seems. They first determine what “good traffic” looks like, then uses that data to help detect the bad type. A website that has deemed a user unsavory, seedy or sketchy can present them with a challenge, such as a password request or two-factor authentication. Sounds pretty standard, right? That is, unless the website determines you’re a pillar of the digital community. You’ll soon be ushered in with the red carpet treatment.

Google hasn’t made it aware what “good traffic” looks like, which makes many wonder how traffic will be judged if a VPN or any anti-tracking extensions are being used.

Contact these pro’s if you’re looking to captcha network security for your organization

To find out how to shore up your organization’s security posture, contact GDT’s tenured and talented engineers and security analysts at SOC@GDT.com. From their Security and Network Operations Centers, they manage, monitor and protect the networks of organizations of all sizes, including those for some of the most notable enterprises, service providers, healthcare organizations and government agencies in the world. They’d love to hear from you.

If you want more information about network security, read about it here:

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The technology arms race was just amped up

Apparently, cyber attackers also consider imitation to be the sincerest form of flattery

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The Collection #1 data breach—sit down first; the numbers are pretty scary

Shutdown affects more than workers

DDoS Attacks will deny a Massachusetts Man Ten (10) years of Freedom

Phishing for Apples

This isn’t fake news

Don’t get blinded by binge-watching

Mo Money, Mo Technology―Taylor Swift uses facial recognition at concerts

Step aside all ye crimes—there’s a new king in town

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They were discovered on Google Play, but this is no game

And in this corner…

Elections are in, but there’s one (1) tally that remains to be counted

Hiring A Hacker Probably Shouldn’t Be Part of Your Business Plan

Gen V

Sexy, yes, but potentially dangerous

Tetration—you should know its meaning

It’s in their DNA

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Interested in a sales career? Give this a look

By Richard Arneson

Technology and IT research leader Gartner predicted in its annual public cloud revenue forecast report that public cloud spend will almost double in the next three years (2022), from its current $182.4bn to $331.2bn. So, if you’re considering a sales career and are wondering what to sell, you may have found your answer.

Leading the pack

Gartner’s report broke out spend by segment, including IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service), PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service), SaaS (Software-as-a-Service), BPaaS (Business Process-as-a-Service) and Cloud Management and Security Services.

The far and away leader in projected revenue growth is SaaS, which they also refer to as Cloud Application Services. Today, it generates almost half of public cloud spend ($80bn), and is expected to maintain roughly the same percentage growth when it reaches, according to Gartner, $143.7bn by 2022.

But the percentage growth leader is IaaS, and by a long shot. It’s expected to grow by over 250% in the next three (3) years, from its current $30.5bn to over $76bn. Then comes PaaS, presently at $15.8bn, which is predicted to be $31.8bn by 2022.

According to Sid Nag, a Gartner research vice president, “We [Gartner] know of no vendor or service provider today whose business model offerings and revenue growth are not influenced by the increasing adoption of cloud-first strategies in organizations. What we see now is only the beginning, though. Through 2022, Gartner projects the market size and growth of the cloud services industry at nearly three time the growth of overall IT services.”

Percentage of overall IT spend

Several recent Gartner surveys have revealed that almost a third of organizations see cloud spend as one (1) its three (3) top investing priorities. More traditional, non-cloud offerings, such as software and infrastructure, comprise the other seventy-two percent (72%). And Gartner predicts that by the end of 2019 (yes, this year) over thirty percent (30%) of service providers’ investments in new software will shift from license-based software consumption to a SaaS subscription-based model.

According to Michael Warrilow, another Gartner research vice president, “Cloud shift highlights the appeal of greater flexibility and agility, which is perceived as a benefit of on-demand capacity and pay-as-you-go pricing in cloud.”

What he doesn’t mention is where to type in “Public Cloud sales representative” on Monster.com.

Moving to the cloud? First, talk to these folks (you can thank me later)

Migrating to the cloud is a big move; it might be the biggest move of your IT career. If you don’t have the right cloud skill sets, expertise and experience on staff, you may soon be wondering if the cloud is all it’s cracked up to be.

That’s why turning to experienced Cloud experts like those at GDT can help make your cloud dreams a reality. They hold the highest cloud certifications in the industry and are experienced delivering and optimizing solutions from GDT’s key cloud partners―AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud and IBM Cloud. They can be reached at CloudTeam@gdt.com. They’d love to hear from you.

If you’d like to learn more about the cloud─migrating to it, things to consider prior to a migration, or a host of other cloud-related topics—you can read about them here:

Survey reveals organizations see the need to utilize more than one (1) public cloud service provider

Government Cloud adoption is growing, but at the rate of other industries?

The 6 (correctly spelled) R’s of a cloud migration

Are you Cloud Ready?

Calculating the costs–soft and hard–of a cloud migration

Migrating to the Cloud? Consider the following

And learn how GDT’s Cloud Team helped these organizations get the most out of their cloud deployments:

A utility company reaps the benefits of the cloud…finally

A company’s cloud goals were trumped by a poor architecture

Government Agency turns to GDT to migrate mission critical apps to the cloud

Monetize space? Sure, if you’ve got a launch pad and a few thousand satellites in your garage

By Richard Arneson

In the event you aren’t aware, there’s a 21st century version of the space race, and Amazon just officially entered it. The $700bn company just filed papers with the U.S. government to launch 3,236 satellites that will provide high speed internet service. They’ll launch them under the name Kuiper Systems, an Amazon subsidiary named after noted astronomer Gerard Kuiper, considered the father of modern planetary science (but you already knew that, right?).

According to Amazon, “Project Kuiper is a new initiative to launch a constellation of Low Earth Orbit satellites that will provide low-latency, high-speed broadband connectivity to unserved and underserved communities around the world.

“This is a long-term project that envisions serving tens of millions of people who lack basic access to broadband internet. We look forward to partnering on this initiative with companies that share this common vision.”

Actually, the number of people who don’t have Internet access is almost 4 billion, or over half the world’s population. And philanthropic proclamations aside, Amazon will certainly enjoy what other ISPs (Internet Service Providers) do—high profits, especially in the short term.

Neighbors in space

Amazon isn’t the first company, and definitely won’t be the last, with plans to monetize space and reap the rewards. In February, a company named OneWeb launched its first satellites after raising $3 billion from some big name investors, including Coca-Cola and Virgin.

And last December, a company named SpaceX launched a couple of satellite prototypes to help support its ambitious plans to shoot 11,000 satellites into orbit. They’re a little behind, though. Their initial goal was to have 400 launched by the end of 2018.

And what would a party be without Facebook making an appearance? They’re currently working on satellite capabilities through a subsidiary named PointView Tech, which is developing a satellite named Athena. Facebook claims it will deliver data ten times (10x) faster than SpaceX. Why SpaceX is in their crosshairs isn’t clear.

But why stop at Internet connectivity?

Apparently, Amazon really likes this space stuff. Another of its companies, Blue Origin, is currently working on launching payload-carrying vehicles into space. Seriously. In fact, its already signed contracts with Telesat, another company that wants to provide high-speed internet via orbiting satellites. The Blue Origin vehicles look a mushroom-shaped rocket from a 1950’s outer space film…but with a cooler paint job. To find out what they most resemble, you’ll have to go to www.blueorigin.com. Nuff said.

They don’t launch satellites, but they can definitely help digitally transform your organization

If you’d like to learn about how GDT’s design engineers and solutions architects turn traditional, legacy infrastructures into innovative, agile machines that make customers more competitive, help them bring applications to market faster, and deliver a superior customer experience, contact them at SolutionsArchitects@gdt.com or at Engineering@gdt.com. They’d love to hear from you.

You can read more about how to digitally transform your infrastructure here:

FTC cracks down on robocalls, but is apparently poor at collection calls

How Machine Learning is making you smarter on game day

Nvidia drops big chunk of change to round out its data center strategy

Intelligence limited only by your architectural imagination

Data growth— how to store all those 1’s and 0’s

Storage—software style

Thank God I’m a country boy…as long as I get broadband

A road less traveled…than you’d think

The four (4) horsemen of HCI

Who doesn’t want to Modernize?

Workshops uncover insights into the state of IT and Digital Transformation

What is Digital Transformation?

The only thing we have to fear is…definitely not automation

Without application performance monitoring, your IoT goals may be MIA

When implementing a new technology, don’t forget this word

Automation and Autonomics—the difference is more than just a few letters

Is Blockchain a lie detector for the digital age?

If you fall victim to it, you won’t end up marking it as “like”

They were discovered on Google Play, but this is no game

Blockchain; it’s more than just Bitcoin

When being disruptive is a good thing

“REPEATABLE” IS THE OPERATIVE WORD

GDT Manufacturing and the GDT Project Management team craft a repeatable deployment for hundreds of retail locations

By Richard Arneson

With almost three hundred (300) retail locations in the United States, a global manufacturing corporation serving the business and residential markets needed to greatly expand its wireless network. If that sounds like a straightforward project, it’s anything but when the locations span four (4) time zones and must be completed in four (4) months. And to add to the complexity, it required utilizing contractors—in this case over two hundred (200)—from coast to coast. The project needed a network and systems integrator capable of managing large, complex projects end-to-end. It needed GDT.

Here’s what happens when GDT’s Project Management professionals and GDT Manufacturing join forces

In the IT industry, a project that is initially poorly scoped is often how many start. This project was no different. However, unlike many project managers, GDT’s Project Management practice is familiar with the realities of the industry. That original scope of work is the first thing they carefully analyze. With tens of thousands of successful project implementations and deployments under their belt, they know that understanding exactly what’s needed to ensure a project’s success must come first. It’s about matching the right projects with the right professionals who can deliver the perfect solution accurately and on-time (in this particular case, on-time actually meant a month ahead of schedule).

Here was one (1) of the major issues—each location, which had up to four (4) access points, required customized cabling at each. When multiplied by almost three hundred (300) locations, that’s well over a thousand (1,000) custom-tailored cable assemblies. Purchasing this amount of Cat6 Plenum cable from manufacturers usually results in wastes of time, resources and cable. That is, unless GDT Manufacturing is involved.

GDT Manufacturing—its customized solutions continually set it apart from the others

Located less than a half mile from GDT’s Innovation Campus, the 40,000 sq. ft. GDT Manufacturing production plant is a state-of-the-art facility where over a hundred highly trained professionals manufacture and test customized Layer One (1) assemblies.

This story follows a script that has been replicated hundreds of times—Project Management contacts GDT Manufacturing. From customer-provided blueprints, GDT Manufacturing not only ensured cable assemblies perfectly accommodated each location, but that they included required straps and industry standard-labeling that would enable contractors to more easily install and implement the solution.

When it all comes together

When disparate time zones and unique floor plans are combined with over two hundred (200) contractors, project managers who consistently bring their A game to the table is the difference between success and failure.

With a goal of completing dozens of locations each week, GDT Project Management deployed an online portal from which project status and communications could be monitored and exchanged. Contractors uploaded photographs throughout the installation process, which were closely monitored by a GDT Quality Auditor to ensure all implementations resulted in a cohesive, structured framework. The portal’s easy-to-use, intuitive dashboard needed to easily accommodate hundreds of contractors with varying levels of tenure and expertise—it did. And it also allowed GDT Manufacturing to better facilitate shipping and help simplify invoicing.

Only after the customer’s engineering team had fully tested each access point—and GDT’s Quality Auditor had inspected all work—was the contractor released from the project.

“Repeatable” is key when deploying large-scale solutions

One (1) box per location. One (1) labeling standard. One (1) industry-leading project management practice. One (1) manufacturing organization that continually delivers what others don’t. When they all came together, they made one (1) customer very happy. In fact, they’re currently working with GDT to deliver the same solution to another three hundred (300) retail locations.

Good news, bad news for IoT

By Richard Arneson

How could there possibly be any news—other than the good kind—for IoT? It will inarguably be looked back on as the most impactful technological paradigm, per capita, of all time. More so than the personal computer. The number of IoT devices has surpassed the world’s population. The PC can’t claim a quarter of that.

You can connect cars, wearables, toys, TVs, meters of all types, security systems, monitoring systems for traffic, both auto and foot, and weather. There are smart cities, smart thermostats, smart lighting, smart appliances, etc. And for anything not connected, there are no doubt people tirelessly working on figuring it out how to make it smart and controllable via a tablet or phone.

But, sadly, with the good comes always comes some bad. And in the case of IoT, the bad involves security. According to a recent study, the number of cyber attacks directed at IoT devices doubled in 2018.

IoT attacks were rare prior to 2014, and the most noteworthy attack came two (2) years later in 2016 when Mirai was introduced. It is the most prevalent family of malware attacks. It’s the granddaddy of IoT attacks, and made its name on those of the DDoS variety. Many subsequent threats have been offshoots of it.

Patience, the good news is coming

Once Mirai made the scene, a steady stream of IoT-targeted attacks soon launched.

Hajime was launched a couple months after Mirai and took advantage of users who neglected to change default passwords on the routers supplied by ISPs.

IoT Reaper was introduced in late 2017, which didn’t rely on password negligence, but targeted HTTP control interface vulnerabilities in publicly facing IT and closed-circuit television cameras (CCTVs). It was a biggie, infecting millions of devices.

The adorably named Hide N Seek virus road the coattails of IoT Reaper. It also found cameras, but accessed the servers by randomly generating IP addresses. It crypto jacked infected servers, installing crypto miners to steal compute resources and generate virtual currency.

ADB.Miner was the first variant of Mirai, and the first to target Android devices. It used devices’ debugger interface to install a crypto miner to trade a virtual currency named Monero.

Fbot, which was also inspired by Mirai, included blockchain-based DNS that was difficult to track. Fbot first targeted ADB.Miner, uninstalled it, then used the infected Android device to crypto mine.

Torii, another Mirai variant, is a brute force attack and used exit nodes by utilizing software from Tor (The Onion Router), a free, open-source software for anonymous communications.

Last year, VPNFilter, the first government-led IoT cyber-attack, was detected. It was backed by the Russians and targeted routers used in the Ukraine, destroying its firmware and sniffing out weak credentials. Almost every router manufacturer on the market had some vulnerability that could be exploited in the attack.

Finally, the good stuff

The study found that almost ninety percent (90%) of all threats examined, including the aforementioned, could have been combated by either deploying a strong password or updating device software. Doing both will take care of ninety percent (90%) of your IoT security concerns. Easy, simple and secure—a no-brainer.

Also, device manufacturers are getting better at releasing products with security in mind. Up until recently, they had placed little emphasis on it. That’s good news moving forward, but not so much if you’re using a device that’s getting a little long in the tooth.

Even better news—you can call on these IoT and Smart City experts to soothe your fears and keep your IoT roadmap safe, sound and secure

For more information about IoT and Smart City solutions, and how to deploy them with security top-of-mind, talk to the experts at GDT. Their tenured, talented solutions architects, engineers and security analysts understand how to design and deploy IoT and Smart City solutions for organizations of all sizes to help them realize more productivity, enhanced operations and greater revenue. GDT helps organizations transform their legacy environments into highly productive digital infrastructures and architectures. You can reach them at IoT@gdt.com. They’d love to hear from you.

You can read more about Smart Cities and IoT Solutions here:

What’s in store for IoT in 2019?

Smart Sneaks

These are no dim bulbs

Why Smart Cities? It’s in the numbers

Five (5) things to consider prior to your company’s IoT journey

Without Application Performance Monitoring, your IoT goals may be MIA

How does IoT fit with SD-WAN?

GDT is leading the Smart Cities Revolution

FTC cracks down on robocalls, but is apparently poor at collection calls

By Richard Arneson

You wouldn’t want to receive one even if you’d spent the last ten (10) years in solitary confinement at Devil’s Island. It’s the robocall, and in all likelihood, you’re getting anywhere from 20 to several gillion a day. In the United States alone, over 4.1 billion robocalls were made in February. Over half the world’s population could have been called in February, the shortest month of the year, no less.

No, they’re not annoying at all. That is, unless you have something—anything, like a 3-hour wait in line at the DMV—that’s a better use of your time than being told you’ve qualified for a trip to the Bahamas, the lowest mortgage rate ever or are subject to an IRS audit in the event you don’t return the call immediately. But the good news is that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) finds them annoying, too. So much so that they’ve shut down four (4) of the more active robocall companies and fined them anywhere from $500,000 to $3.64 million.

Here are the offenders, listed in order of sleaziness

These folks are real charmers. Calls from Veterans of America claimed they were an an altruistic organization that accepted donations in the form of cars, boats, motorcycles, anything of value, that would be provided to veterans. Instead, they sold the items for profit. It was operated by Travis Deloy Peterson, who faces a $500,000 fine. Yes, Travis got off easy.

If you’ve gotten a robocall from, allegedly, Google, you were probably at the wrong end of a dialer owned by Pointbreak Media. Their calls claimed to be coming from Google in an attempt to get smaller businesses to purchase a service that would improve how they rank in Google searches. They got the biggest fine—$3.64 million.

Higher Goals Marketing hit up anybody who picked up their robocall for services to lower credit card interest rates. The owner’s previous company, Life Management Services, was shut down three (3) years ago. They now owe $3.15 million in fines.

NetDotSolutions is the beast of the bunch and made robocalls on security systems, credit cards, debt relief, warranties, loans, you name it. They ignored the Do Not Call registry, left unlawful messages and used spoof caller IDs. They got hit with a $1.3 million fine.

But can the FTC collect these fines?

The fine amounts sound impressive, but whether the FTC collects them is another matter. According to The Wall Street Journal, which obtained the information courtesy of the Freedom of Information Act, of the $208.4 million in fines the FTC has levied against robocallers since 2015, they’ve collected $6,790, just enough to buy a high-end bicycle.

Technology questions? Turn to the pros

If you’d like to learn about how GDT’s design engineers and solutions architects turn traditional, legacy infrastructures into innovative, agile machines that make customers more competitive, help them bring applications to market faster, and deliver a superior customer experience, contact them at SolutionsArchitects@gdt.com or at Engineering@gdt.com. They’d love to hear from you.

You can read more about how to digitally transform your infrastructure here:

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Nvidia drops big chunk of change to round out its data center strategy

Intelligence limited only by your architectural imagination

Data growth— how to store all those 1’s and 0’s

Storage—software style

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The four (4) horsemen of HCI

Who doesn’t want to Modernize?

Workshops uncover insights into the state of IT and Digital Transformation

What is Digital Transformation?

The only thing we have to fear is…definitely not automation

Without application performance monitoring, your IoT goals may be MIA

When implementing a new technology, don’t forget this word

Automation and Autonomics—the difference is more than just a few letters

Is Blockchain a lie detector for the digital age?

If you fall victim to it, you won’t end up marking it as “like”

They were discovered on Google Play, but this is no game

Blockchain; it’s more than just Bitcoin

When being disruptive is a good thing

If you’re storing data Down Under, you’re likely re-thinking that decision, says Microsoft president

By Richard Arneson

Yesterday, Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith said many of its government and enterprise customers want to build data centers outside of Australia. He said that they’re very concerned with Australian legislation passed last December that may leave their data ripe—at least more ripe—for the cybersecurity picking.

Combined, Labor and Coalition parties may have succeeded in leaving the backdoor open

The legislation, titled The Telecommunications (Assistance and Access) Act, basically allows Australian law enforcement to, as it sees fit, hack, implant malware and be given backdoor access to companies, including the biggies, such as Facebook, Google and Apple. The goals of the act, which was fervently opposed by the conservative Labor Party, were admirable—find and catch digital evildoers. Who can argue with that? But the Labor Party was afraid of giving the government that level of free rein, so they agreed to a compromise that limited its powers only to investigate terrorism, child sexual offences, or any offense that would bring about a term of at least three (3) years in prison. If it sounds like those “limits” could be stretched due to ambiguity, it’s because they can. By all accounts, the legislation is vaguely worded.

Many in the Labor Party are already expressing regret that they agreed to the legislation in the first place. Yesterday, Labor spokesman Ed Husic told a technology forum in Sydney that he wished he could turn back time. They reportedly agreed to the restructured bill because they feared that blocking it would ultimately result in the Labor Party being blamed for a terrorist attack that was suspected to take place around Christmas. It never came.

Just last week, Labor claimed Coalition is already reneging on the agreement by not supporting amendments previously published in a bipartisan security report.

Broad security measures

The list of measures the Australian government can utilize is long and as broad as the Mighty Mississippi. It includes, among dozens of other elements, its ability to remove an organization’s form(s) of electronic protection, facilitate access to its services and equipment, install or update security software, modify technology, and be able to conceal that any of the aforementioned measures have taken place.

Several concerns by several players

Australia’s Communications Alliance, which is the country’s primary lobbying group for the technology sector, fears the law will take a chunk out of the country’s $3.2bn technology export business. Due to it, they claim, companies and countries will restrict Australian imports because of concerns that Australian devices will be more vulnerable.

Australia’s Human Rights Commission is concerned the law could result in suspects being tricked into providing access to encrypted messages. For instance, an email to an individual or entity instructing them to update an application could ultimately provide the police or a government agency access to users’ devices.

The Labor Party’s Scott Ryan, the current Senate president, is afraid it will allow agencies access to devices utilized by members of Australia’s Parliament. So, parliamentarians would lose the opportunity to claim parliamentary privilege concerning material seized under warrant. File this under the heading CYA.

Smith acknowledges that the law certainly wasn’t written to push open backdoors and create vulnerabilities, but he’s hearing many companies and governments claim that they’ll no longer put their data in Australia. “So,” he says, “they [customers] are asking us to build more data centers in other countries.”

Forget the politics; secure your network

To find out how to shore up your organization’s security posture, contact GDT’s tenured and talented engineers and security analysts at SOC@GDT.com. From their Security and Network Operations Centers, they manage, monitor and protect the networks of organizations of all sizes, including those for some of the most notable enterprises, service providers, healthcare organizations and government agencies in the world. They’d love to hear from you.

If you want more information about network security, read about it here:

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Step aside all ye crimes—there’s a new king in town

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And in this corner…

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Gen V

Sexy, yes, but potentially dangerous

Tetration—you should know its meaning

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